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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Your Next Captial Equipment Purchase

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Advice: Get advice.

 Get advice from an independent-unbiased consultant before you purchase new capital equipment (Machines, production equipment, automation, etc.)

Example, don’t rely on equipment provider and OEM only. Before making any decisions, signing any agreements, seek out a non-related and non-competitive consultant or training company and ask their advice.

An OEM may sell you on the notion you need the most expensive equipment, or new technology that can often cost you more in support and downtime.

Ask the questions

  • Does the application need this level of technology?
  • Will it make us OEM dependant?
  • Do we have staff trained to maintain, make minor modifications?
  • Is the system cost effectively expandable? Does it really need to be expandable?
  • Will we have access to ALL programs, documentation, needed software?
  • Will the project require ongoing support cost? How Much?
  • Is the process secure from malicious abuse? (Can it be easily accessed remotely by unauthorized persons?)
  • What is the turnaround time to get on-site service tech? At what cost?
Examples from those who have not sought out an independent consultant first

“Paid $10k+ plus for process automation controller to move a press up and down, when a simple PLC for less than $1K would have been just fine.”
“OEM upgrades firmware version on our system, so our software no-longer works requiring us to call OEM when ever even minor modifications are needed or to troubleshoot.”

“Vendor refuses to provide schematics or documented PLC program so we can troubleshoot in-house.”

“It takes 3 days to a week to get service tech in to troubleshoot.”

“Someone got into our machine via the phone modem connected to machine, and corrupted the program, shutting us down.”

“We are trained on PLCs, but the vendor used a PAC to control with C++, now we need a computer programmer to troubleshoot and modify.”

And the most popular … “We are not trained on that.”, “We don’t have schematics, software or documented copy of program.”
  
And the list of horror stories go on. Please help others out and use the comment area below to tell your personal stories of how a new project cost you more than necessary upfront or after start-up. So we all can learn and avoid future headaches. Thanks for your help.

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .)
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